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Thus Let Us Drink Beer - Holgate Brewhouse and Six String Brewing

As we have outlined with our previous coverage of Holgate Brewhouse, over the last twenty years the Victorian brewery has established itself firmly on the forefront of innovative quality producers of ales that honour both the classic styles from the old world and the ever expanding and envelope pushing North American micro scene, as well as more experimental brews and ventures based around barrel maturation.

With their operations having constantly evolved and grown, both in terms of extent as well as in terms of using cutting edge technology, I am always looking forward to their new emissions and the directions they take their beers into, especially when it comes to their IPAs.

Their latest brew, i.e. the Campfire Red IPA has a telling name as it is the ideal companion for an evening in front of a campfire during the colder months of the year.

The marriage of citrussy rind and luscious red berry hops results in a complex flavour profile with malty, chocolatey nuances dancing on a parquet of deliciously piny, resinous hoppiness with a delicately dry finish. A wonderful component to have alongside a dram of peaty whisky.

Quite a different flavour experience is Holgate’s Tivo Orange Sour, the name of which alludes to the intention of creating an aperitif in beer form. Based on a collaboration with Umberto Espresso Bar, it has a distinct Italian take and is modelled after a spritz -a feat that is achieved by using a German hop variation going under the colourful name Mandarina Bavaria. Peachy in appearance, this is the perfect palate cleanser and accompaniment to a charcuterie board as its bitter notes would counter and thereby complement savoury flavours. The fact that with a mere 4% ABV it is extremely sessionable does not hurt either.

So far, so good.

However, the winner of the new range that I have been fortunate enough to enjoy is Holgate’s Beezebub’s Jewels, which is the name of a series that sees the brewery experimenting with barrels.

In essence, Holgate takes a specifically created Belgian style ale and matures it in wine barrels and if you harbour a remote appreciation for rich, dark Belgian ales, you are in for a treat as the result is reminiscent of a barley wine with Belgian quad characteristics. Needless to say, the barrels have imbued the ale with sherry-esque, dark fruity and oak overtones, which add immensely to the complexity.

Clocking in at 12% ABV, this is a dangerously more-ish drop that leaves one smacking one’s lips.

Back in New South Wales, on the Central Coast to be precise, Six String Brewery has grown to a veritable powerhouse over the last eight years and in terms of their emissions, they have been going from strength to strength.

With the name of the distillery being a thinly veiled reference to one of the founder’s weak spot for how bass players like John Lennon and Robert Smith like to channel their alchemy in a more pronounced manner, i.e. the use of 6-stringed basses, it should not come as a surprise that internally they refer to their creations as “amplified ales”.

While Six String Brewery has a formidable core range, with this instalment of our series, I would like to focus on their IPA range, the quality of which has got me raving about to anyone who indicates being remotely into hopped out brews.

As a good starting point to signify the descent into the delicious rabbit hole that is Six String Brewery, I would recommend their Shreddin’ IPA as it proves to be an exquisite session IPA with a deliciously overpowering dankness, which is set against a backdrop of citrus and tropical notes, culminating in a lovely balanced bitterness.

Let’s continue our examination of Six String’s IPA range in a vertical manner and move to another one of their perfectly calibrated core expressions, i.e. their Dark Red IPA.

Clocking in at the same ABV as the Shreddin’ IPA yet with a higher IBU of just slightly over 50, things are taken to the next level in terms of hoppiness and flavours..

As the colour indication in the name would suggest, the IPA’s typical resinous and citrus flavours are overshadowed by dark chocolatey and caramel notes derived from the malts, which imbue the brew with its colour and ensure the well-calibrated balance between sweet highlights and a grounding bitterness.

So far, so good.

While the aforementioned expressions deliver flavour in spades, Six String’s Electric Feel West Coast IPA knocks things out of the park.

Quintessentially, this is a supercharged India Pale Ale, which sees Centennial hops being married with Simcoe.

Clocking in at a solid ABV of 7.2%, the result is everything a West Coast IPA aficionado could wish for, i.e. vibrant flavour avalanches of piney hops, fruity and dank aromas that make it a wonderful olfactory experience culminating in an elongated finish with a herbal, earthy crescendo in terms of bitterness.

Word around the campfire has that Six String Brewing will continue their journey with a firm focus on limited and more experimental releases and I can only hope that as far as IPAs are concerned, they will continue their streak of creating hopped out flavour bombs.


images from company websites

July 18, 2021

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